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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

French Toast Bake & Cookie Dough Dip...Who's Hungry?!

I know, I know. We're all watching our carb intake, limiting refined sugar, cutting fat, starving to fit into a swim suit, blah, blah, blah. But, come on. Life is short and sometimes we all just need a treat. Calories, be damned!

There are two recipes that I have to share with you, dear readers. If you are hosting a brunch or a play date, these are perfect. Or if you are just having a crappy day and want to bake away your stress, keep these handy.

First we have a Stuffed Apple, Blueberry, and Walnut French Toast Casserole from the February/March 2012 issue of Kiwi magazine. I made this for breakfast not too long ago when my brother and his girlfriend visited for the weekend. It is wonderful with breakfast sausages (we had Morningstar Farms Sausage Links...we're vegetarians), and plenty of maple syrup.

It takes about ten minutes to prepare, and 45 minutes to bake. You can toast the walnuts and cube the bread the night before. Just store both in air-tight containers.

Stuffed Apple, Blueberry, and Walnut French Toast Casserole

4 large eggs (or equivalent amount of egg whites, Egg Beaters, etc.)
1 c. milk (skim, 1%, 2%, soy, almond, rice...whatever's in the fridge)
10 slices whole wheat cinnamon swirl bread with raisins, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 small Golden Delicious apple, peeled, quartered, cored, and very thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, divided
1/2 c. frozen or fresh blueberries, divided
1/3 c. walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped, divided

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat an 8-by-8-inch baking pan or dish with olive oil or nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Place the eggs and milk in a large bowl. Whisk together until well combined. Kids can help by dropping in the bread cubes and mixing well. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure all the bread is covered with the egg mixture.

3. Arrange half the bread mixture evenly in the prepared pan. Kids can help by topping with the sliced apples. Kids can sprinkle with 1 tablespoon brown sugar, half the blueberries, and half the walnuts. Arrange the remaining bread mixture evenly on top and have kids help by following with the remaining blueberries, walnuts, and brown sugar.

4. Bake until the casserole is set and a food thermometer inserted in the center registers 160 degrees, about 40-45 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Top with maple syrup, if desired. Serves 6.

Second, I bring you Cookie Dough Dip. Yes, for all of us who lick the spoon while baking, there is an egg-free way to get that cookie dough taste in a social setting. Yesterday, my fellow ROCmomma - also a Kim - came over for a play date with her son and daughter. After lunch, we satisfied our sweet teeth with this amazingly delicious dip. Apple slices, graham crackers, and chocolate graham crackers served as the vehicles to deliver the cookie-dough-goodness directly to our taste buds. YUM!

This recipe calls for toffee bits. You can find them in the baking section of your grocery store, along with the chocolate chips. Here in the Rochester area, Wegmans carries Heath brand Bits'O Brickle toffee bits.

Cookie Dough Dip

8 oz. cream cheese (reduced fat works well)
1/3 c. margarine or butter, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 c. mini chocolate chips
1/2 to 1 c. toffee bits

1. In a food processor - or with a hand-held mixer - blend the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Kids can help by adding powdered sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla, and then mix again.

2. Kids can help stir in the chocolate chips and toffee bits by hand. Transfer to a storage container and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

3. Stir again before serving; serve with sliced fruit, cookies, graham crackers, you name it!

Happy eating, and as always thanks for reading. When you try these recipes, Post a Comment and let us know how they came out, or how you tweaked them.

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